Malaysia should dialogue with the SultanBy Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
There’s no way the Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram, will heed President Noy’s appeal for him to order his men in Sabah to come home so the standoff could be resolved peacefully.
“Why would the Sultan listen to the President who left him out in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)?” said a member of the Philippine intelligence community who claims he is close to Kiram.
The sultan continues to refuse Malaysia’s ultimatum for the recall of his men. The ultimatum expired yesterday (Friday).
An attack by the Malaysian police and military against the group headed by Crown Prince Agbimuddin Kiram after the deadline could start a war against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
MNLF chairman Nur Misuari, who is of royal lineage, will order his followers to cross to Sabah and fight a guerrilla war.
The MNLF, composed mostly of Tausogs, waged a decades-long war against the government until it signed a peace accord with the government during the time of President Ramos.
If MNLF guerrillas cross over to Sabah, they will be harbored by fellow Tausogs who live in the Malaysian state.
A third of the population in Sabah, according to a rough unofficial estimate, is Tausog.
The Tausogs and other Muslim tribes, like the Maguindanaoans and Maranaws, live in a feudal society where datus (village kings) rule.
The datus in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, in turn, defer to the Sulu sultan.
It would be good for Malaysia to dialogue with the sultan to prevent a guerrilla war like the one waged by the MNLF against the government from the 1970s through the 1980s and early 1990s.
Malaysia could promise the Tausogs just about anything to appease them.
At the outset of the talks with the Sulu sultanate, Kuala Lumpur could promise to increase the rent it pays the sultan for Sabah.
The fact that Malaysia pays rent, no matter how paltry, is evidence that the sultanate owns Sabah.
Ricardo “Dick” Penson, an independent senatorial candidate who’s not doing well in the surveys, is much more qualified than most of the frontrunners.
Penson is a multimillionaire businessman and activist who is against political dynasties.
He took to the hills during the martial law years but was captured and tortured by the military.
He escaped to the United States where he finished his masters in business management at the University of Cincinnati and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
After graduation, Penson worked in various American companies.
On his return to the country, he convinced some of his comrades in the New People’s Army (NPA) to come down from the hills and work for his firm.
Appointed deputy director general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) during Cory Aquino’s time, Penson contributed to the decrease in the number of NPA rebels from 25,000 to 8,000.
He is a partner of billionaire Ramon Ang in the construction of an expressway linking Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija and then to Cagayan Valley.
Penson’s marriage to actress Dina Bonnevie years ago ended in an annulment.
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